Archive for July, 2009

Talking Images: Where Journalism Meets Local Character

July 24th, 2009

If you’re a HarmonyWishes follower, I think we can assume you have good taste, no?  ☺  We may also assume that you have some interest in quality images. I’ve got you pegged, right?

I’ve been hard at work on a multimedia project here in my neighborhood in Oaxaca. Gathering a group of local illustrators, photographers, graphic designers, animators, musician and audio makers (to name a few), we’ve been creating a multimedia portrait of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Oaxaca—Xochimilco.  It’s fun to say!  Here, let me help you: soh-chee-MĒL-koh.

It’s been exciting and challenging to find ways to characterize and narrate the story of these cobblestone streets.  The process has made me think about how images are used to tell different stories. I’ve been hunting down examples where photography and  sound are used to convey a variety of messages.  I thought I might share a few of those sites with this “image-engaged” crowd. Here’s the first of several posts on my findings.

Screenshot, One in 8 Million, Photo: Todd Heisler, Text: Sarah Kramer

Screenshot, One in 8 Million, Photo: Todd Heisler, Text: Sarah Kramer

One in 8 Million

This is one of my favorite multi-media offerings on the NY Times website. The series was produced by Sarah Kramer and Alexis Mainland, with photographs from Todd Heisler. Here’s how they describe the project:

New York is a city of characters. On the subway and in its streets, from the intensity of Midtown to the intimacy of neighborhood blocks, is a 305-square-mile parade of people with something to say.  This is a collection of a few of their passions and problems, relationships and routines, vocations and obsessions. A new story will be added weekly.

So often these local stories don’t make it to the inked pages of national papers like the Times. I would wager that expanded reader use of online versions of newspapers has made it possible, and even necessary, for them to spotlight feature stories on the small scale, with personal character and universal appeal.  These are stories about people like you and me—told with quality. You’ll hear about Henrique Prince, the subway busker, or Alexandra Elman, the blind wine taster. Check out their depository; it is immense (but easy to sift through) and fascinating. I’m a fan!

I encourage you to think about the many ways the images in HarmonyWishes’ collection tell a story.  By sharing that image you extend the story past the lens or paintbrush, and into the lives of your own community. Are you curious to know from where a particular image was drawn, or what the story is behind it?

Well, let us know! We’re happy to share.


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Momentum and Guy #3

July 22nd, 2009

There’s been a bit of buzz around the “intertubes” of late about this particular YouTube video involving the subject of momentum.

Let me set the scene: There’s a man dancing at a music festival.  His style is a bit unique; but he’s clearly unreserved in his expression of pleasure at the song being played.  There are onlookers, fellow festival attendants, content to loaf on the grassy hillside, bopping their heads to the rhythm. They shyly observe the guy’s movement from afar.  And then, a second guy joins in.  Guy #1 gives him a bit of instruction on how to gyrate his arms properly.  Other than this, nothing else about the scene changes.  People may be a bit more overt about watching them; but it still just a spectacle.  At about the 1-minute mark of the video, something happens—and this something is what the internet is talking about.  It’s guy #3.

Here’s how blogger Seth Godin puts it: “Before him, it was just a crazy dancing guy and then maybe one other crazy guy. But it’s guy #3 who made it a movement.”

Once Guy #3 is on the scene the mood changes.  People are inspired.  Pairs and trios jump up to join in. And in a matter of seconds a mass of people swarm the area—creating a full on dance party. You can watch as the crowd flips from passive observers, to active participants.

“Initiators are rare indeed, but it’s scary to be the leader. Guy #3 is rare too, but it’s a lot less scary and just as important. Guy #49 is irrelevant. No bravery points for being part of the mob…We need more guy #3s.”

Whether or not dancing en masse is your scene, or this particular song (which incidentally is called “Unstoppable”) is your kind of music—I think the example it makes is useful for all.  What opportunities do you have in your world to create momentum? Can you help something you believe in grow just by joining in in some small way?

We at HarmonyWishes feel fortunate to have a myriad of people who have helped us launch our own vision of a site that fosters positive energy, intercultural exploration and tolerance through images and greetings.  From those who have invested in our efforts from the start, to the artists and photographers participating with their work, to those of you who enjoy membership—your presence in our community is invaluable.

We’re on the lookout for some Guy #3s.

We want to grow our community, and share the positive efforts we see happening around the globe; but we need some help to accomplish that.  There’s lots of ways to do it—and we promise you they’re “less scary, and just as important.”  Here are a few:

  1. Join our network on Twitter (@HarmonyWishes). We’ll post when we’ve got a new blog up, promotions, or link to interesting happenings we hear about around the world.  We’d love to hear what you’re tweeting about. So, let’s link up.
  2. Comment on our blog.  We would like to hear what you have to add to our conversation. Or you can make a suggestion for a future blog! We’re all ears.
  3. Tell your friends about us.  Whether it’s by linking to us through your Twitter page, or sending them a URL link, help spread the word about us to those in your own community.  They don’t have to be members to read and join in on the conversation.
  4. And of course, keep taking advantage of our ever-expanding pool of images and greetings to send off best wishes to your community.  Not only does sending a HarmonyWishes e-card help you connect with your circle, it also spreads the word about the great work of the artists you enjoy on our site. There are scads of ways you can utilize a HW e-card:
  • Best wishes, birthdays, holiday greetings
  • Send notices of your upcoming events and announcements
  • As artists, use our e-cards to promote gallery shows or new work
  • Share information about charities or campaigns you support; our images complement many non-profit initiatives.

We need your help to make HarmonyWishes an even stronger community. For us, the e-card is only the beginning of the exchange.


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Notes from Abroad – Guelaguetza in Oaxaca

July 21st, 2009
Dancers from one of Oaxaca's 7 Regions

Copyright 2007~ Rebeca Beeman

Celebrations marking Guelaguetza week have arrived here in Oaxaca. Also known locally as Lunes de Cerro (Monday on the Hill), Guelaguetza is one of the most important customs celebrated in Oaxaca. The word—a bit tricky to pronounce (gay-lah-GHET-sah)—comes from Zapotec, an indigenous language still widely spoken around the state. It means: “reciprocal exchanges of gifts and services.”

The focal point of Guelaguetza week is the large folkloric dance festival that takes place on the two Mondays following July 16 in a large amphitheater on the hillside overlooking Oaxaca City (thus, Lunes de Cerro). Indigenous delegations hailing from the seven regions around the state flock to the city to present their region’s traditional music and dances in the intricate and colorful costumes representative of their home communities. At the close of each dance, delegations heave giant palm-thatched baskets up onto stage, dipping in, and hurling treasures from their villages to the eager public in the stands. Clothe-wrapped cheeses, artisanal breads, sombreros and the like, are tossed out wildly. The dancer who can heft with the most gusto receives the wildest cheers from a grateful audience.

But Guelaguetza involves much more than the two dance festivals atop the Cerro de Fortín. Parades, or calendas, begin days before the big show; brass bands, giant puppets and roving revelers hoisting up luminaries march through town, gathering up passersby in their wake. A mezcal festival squats down between the walls of Santo Domingo and Carmen Alto churches, offering visitors a chance to sample from the myriad flavors and varieties of Oaxaca’s artisanal producers.

The packed Amphitheater

Copyright 2007~ Rebeca Beeman

Guelaguetza week draws many tourists from around México, and the world. The town is pulsing with new activity. I’ll confess that I prefer the celebrations out in small villages, or the ones that take place in homes all over Oaxaca, to the pomp and circumstance in town. Small pockets of communities all over the state host their own dance festivals over the next two weeks. The crowds are less, but more local. And the celebrations take on some air of what the Guelaguetza originally looked like when there was no amphitheater or Secretary of Tourism—but just a hillside packed with those proud to share what their ancestors taught them.

Una pareja bailando

Copyright 2007~ Rebeca Beeman

My own adopted Mexican family here invites loved ones over for a lunch that stretches from two in the afternoon until dawn. We sprawl and eat, dance and chat. We embody the Spanish word “convivir,” which a dictionary will tell you means “to exist,” but also literally means “to live with.” I like both meanings. And I like to think of Guelaguetza as a time to personify that verb in action. I invite you, wherever you are in the world, to celebrate your own kind of Guelaguetza this week. It’s a great excuse to reconnect!


** Photos courtesty Rebeca Beeman.

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Good Works – “Screw Botox….Let’s Cure Cancer”

July 19th, 2009
Happy Feet ~ Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes

Happy Feet ~ Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes

We all get solicitations from friends who have personal causes, and speaking for myself, I do try to participate and support them when possible.  The one I got this week ranks high not only for the cause, but because it’s so darn funny and well written.  This friend (we’ll call her “Janet”) has given me permission to post it here in hopes that it will at a minimum give you a laugh and possibly motivate you to donate.  Here you go…

I celebrate the big five-o in just a couple of months. When I was trying to think about what you could get me (because I know you will insist) my first thought, naturally, turned to Botox. Then Restylane. Then something to inject fat from my own hiney. Then I thought, what if instead I keep the fat in my hiney and make it run a marathon (or if my fat hedges its bet, a half-marathon). So that my friends, is what I’m going to do.

I have signed up with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training program. Through this program, I will not just be running for myself, but in support of an organization that is dedicated to curing lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improving the lives of patients and their families. In exchange for fundraising, the Society will help me train for the race, provide coaching and medical guidance, and will put me together with other runners of similar skills.

Thinking about how fortunate I am and learning about how these diseases affect families (the stories are incredible); it has made one very important thing clear to me: you can never take anything for granted…especially when you’re 50. Your life can change on a dime; it’s important to seize the opportunity to make a difference when you can.

So here I am, seizing my opportunity. For my birthday…, two simple goals: one, to cross the finish line of the Nike Women’s Marathon on October 18th; and two, to raise $3000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I’ll do the running (or stumbling or crawling, as the case may be). I am hoping you will help with the second goal by making a tax-deductible donation of any amount, not to the Birthday Botox fund, but to LLS and the folks this amazing organization serves.

This way my face can still register joy when I see you, and we can spread some of that joy to individuals and families battling cancer.

Please use the link in this email to donate online quickly and securely plus learn more about my progress. You will receive a confirmation of your donation by email and I will be notified as soon as you make your donation.

On behalf of LLS and my 50-year-old self, thank you for whatever support you can provide. It is truly appreciated.


HarmonyWishes applauds Janet’s priorities and will be tracking her progress!

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HarmonyWishes Update: New Images Available Today!

July 14th, 2009

This month’s new images are available for use!  We are approaching 300 images in our E-card galleries and love to introduce new artists to you as well as expand the work available from some of the artists you already know.   Today’s new images include work from Stefanie Graves, David Lucht, Giovanna Gazzolo and our own Art Director, Michael Matlach.  Their work represents the diverse content that HarmonyWishes is known for!

Here’s a brief sample.  Take a peek at HarmonyWishes e-card site for more!

Amigas Viejas ~ Copyright 2005 ~ Stefanie Graves

"Amigas Viejas" ~ Copyright 2005 ~ Stefanie Graves

"Floating" ~ Copyright 2008 ~ David Lucht

"Floating" ~ Copyright 2008 ~ David Lucht

"Black Dancers" ~ Copyright 2007 ~ Giovanna Gazzolo

"Black Dancers" ~ Copyright 2007 ~ Giovanna Gazzolo

Stone Musicians ~ Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes,inc

Stone Musicians ~ Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes,inc

There’s much more to see, so cruise on over to HarmonyWishes to see the latest additions (hint – the most recent updates will always be found at the beginning of each gallery).

Help change the world one ecard at a time. …
Staying in touch has never been so creative.



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Artist Q & A – Delfino Cornali

July 4th, 2009

Delfino Cornali

Delfino Cornali

Q:   We are curious about how you strike a balance between your artistic side and your work as a software engineer.  Does one influence the other or is one a release from the other?

A:   When I first began on my artistic path, art represented my connection to “the genuine world.”  Although art was a source of solace for me, it wasn’t a release per se—more as a touchstone to the real world.  I see now that that was a rather monochromatic view of the world and my creative space.  Now I see these two major creative forces in my life as flowing from the same source. Software is creative in a verbal and functional way—my pastels speak to something much less tangible.  Visual creativity doesn’t quite capture my creative process, there’s so much going on simultaneously—emotion, illusion, symbol. I believe software & pastels have had tremendous influence on each other—through me—in ways I will never get my work colleagues or my arty friends to quite understand (or believe, even). Yet the cross-currents are most definitely there.  I think the highest praise I could ever receive would be “Delfino lives a creative life” as that is my goal.

Q:   Mike, our Art Director, sees an Edward Hopper influence in some of your work.  Is he one of your influences?  If not, who is?

A:   I love how Hopper’s works capture the gold in California’s light. I’ve long admired Raoul Dufy and Georgia O’Keefe. They more than any others have shaped the way I approach landscapes & still life respectively.  I love the worlds-within-worlds that O’Keefe brings to her flowers.  I think she delighted in bringing her viewers so very deeply into the interiors of her flowers, she showed the world the eroticism of simple flowers.  Flowers were my first love for pastels—this piece “Irises for Anthea” was one of my first.  They still call to me.

Copyright ~ Delfino Cornali

"Irises for Anthea" ~ Copyright 2004 ~ Delfino Cornali

Now I am discovering the work of the pastel artist Odilon Redon—his simple still life pieces blow me away.

Q:   Can you elaborate on your creative process?  How do your images originate?

A:   I don’t know if I have one creative process.  I often work directly from a photograph—printing the image directly onto watercolor stock or a canvas-rag paper, and apply pastels directly over the image.  When I work this way, painting becomes more of an evolutionary process than the “normal” create-from-nothing process.  Instead of rendering, my role becomes one of shifting an image, its contrasts, color palette, etc.  What emerges is a synthesis of the camera’s rendering and my own, although as the artist I get to control the extent to which the underlying image appears in the final work.  In some pieces like “91st Street Roses” the original image is completely obliterated.  The original image was just an evolutionary stepping stone.  I think of the original image like a builder’s chalk line—an interesting artifact of the building process, not part of the finished work.

Copyright ~ Delfino Cornali

"91st Street Roses" ~ Copyright 2007 ~ Delfino Cornali

I work a lot with nature and natural forms—vegetables, flowers, the living fractal shapes of landscapes.  I think the human mind is hard-wired (after ten million generations) to interpret immediately the natural world.  Yet for all the “advances” of our modern society, I fear our culture is busying itself to forget its connection to the natural world.  Re-creating natural forms and returning them to our cultural attention is a major focus of my work.

I think I have a completely different creative process when I do abstract pieces.  I try to get out of the way, to let the images flow from wherever they flow from, and not try too hard to control the evolution.  “Sunbather” evolved this way, where I only took on smaller tasks rather than attempting to guide and control the larger vision of the piece.  Surrendering control—and having faith that all will be “okay”— is an important exercise for artists, and for me as a human being.

Copyright ~ Delfino Cornali

"Sunbather" ~ Copyright 2009 ~ Delfino Cornali

Q:   A lot of your artwork appears to have origins from other countries.  Is there a particular part of the world that seems to inspire your work more than another?

A:   Travel has been an important part of my life for many years.  I did a three-year around the world trip back in the 1990s—working on farms, family home-stays, bicycling through New Zealand, riding buses through Latin America, and writing as my media for recording the journey.  Travel sharpened my sense of observation, and I think observation is THE motivation & reward of travel for me.  It’s our opportunity to pause and really comprehend what’s before you.  In that respect, travel is just the opposite of the Western Science that says instruments don’t change, they only record.  With travel, we become the instrument, and we WANT the instrument itself to change—that’s the goal.

The Mediterranean speaks to me at such a core level, to my ancestral roots.  It’s where I truly feel “at home.”  The light in Greece and Italy never fails to astound me; it forces me to observe and renews my sense of wonder.  Yes, much of my work derives from photos from my travels.  I’m planning a five-week trip to Croatia this summer-fall, where I’m planning to do more with seascapes in plein air.

Q:   Where do you see your work going in the future?  New techniques?  Any personal projects, shows, books in the works you want to talk about?

A:   I began a project earlier this year, an art blog called “One Hundred Paintings to Inspire Your Life” (  Here I’m reviewing the pastel pieces I’ve created over the past six years and exploring how they speak to me now (rather than dwelling on what I was trying to do, art techniques, etc.)

Copyright ~ Delfino Cornali

"On The Andaman" ~ Copyright 2008 ~ Delfino Cornali

I’m working these days with some interesting techniques and materials—underlay of watercolors beneath pastels, sandpaper, canvas with sun-softened oil pastels (like the seascape in “On The Andaman”) My travel to Croatia will give me a chance to gain more experience working plein air, seascapes and doing architectural forms.  I plan to assemble a show here in Seattle the following year based on the body of work that emerges.  We’ll see how that progresses, and I’ll keep HarmonyWishes in mind to show some of my latest works.

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The Earth is Hiring

July 3rd, 2009

A speech given by Paul Hawken to the graduating class of University of Portland has been making the internet rounds over the last month.  After giving it a read, I can see why.  Here’s a snippet to inspire you:

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes

Copyright 2009 ~ HarmonyWishes

I encourage you to read the whole thing.  Whether you are graduating this month, or not (I am well past my college years!), I think it’s an inspiring celebration of the myriad positive efforts happening around the globe and a marvelous trumpet to action.

I hope it moves you as it did me.



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The Source of Your Creativity

July 1st, 2009

As Meg mentioned in a HarmonyWishes tweet recently, the TED video trove is an excellent source of inspiring talks from great minds.  HW’s recent interview on this blog with photographer and painter Nina E. Hauser reminded me of a wonderful TED video I saw several months ago.  Nina mentioned, “The Greeks believed that each child was blessed at birth with a personal “daemon” embodying the highest possible expression of his or her nature.”  Well, writer Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) spoke on that very subject in her TED talk. It is a lovely speech about the source of creativity, and the faith to believe in it.



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